U.S. vetoes UN resolution put forth by Arab states demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

The UN Security Council needs to immediately evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah, given its stated concerns about the humanitarian emergency. Instead, the UN has intentionally blocked civilian evacuation, and continues to choose instead to keep the global spotlight on Israel, not on Hamas and its use of human shields. While Israel has shown repeated concern for civilians and attempted to “do all it could” to evacuate Gazans in Rafah, it has emerged that the UN refused to allow it. The UN does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, according to UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths, and so the UN stands with Hamas, including in its use of human shields. Antisemitic and anti-Israel media also aids and abets Hamas in its goal of obliterating the Jewish state by serving as its propaganda mouthpieces.

Hamas Political Bureau member and former Interior Minister Fathi Hammad took the gloves off in December and declared that the Palestinians are aspiring to establish a global Islamic caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital. The UN is controlled by Islamic states and in 2018 adopted a statement “demanding respect for Islam.”

The UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire was put forth by Algeria “on behalf of Arab States.” In Algeria, where Islam is the state religion, some people still hold black slaves and torture them, but the Algerian government pretends to care about human rights. The country also engages in “mass death sentences marred by unfair trials, torture claims,” but this gets ignored, as do human rights abuses in other Islamic states — notably the Islamic Republic of Iran, a chief funder of the jihadist effort to obliterate Israel, which was appointed to chair the 2023 UN Human Rights Council Social Forum.

Although the US vetoed the immediate ceasefire resolution, it also supports a temporary ceasefire, which will do damage to Israel’s war on Hamas, allow Hamas to regroup, and place Israel in a severely vulnerable position.

US vetoes Algerian resolution demanding immediate ceasefire in Gaza

United Nations, February 20, 2024:

The UN Security Council met again in emergency session in New York on Gaza Tuesday, where the United States vetoed a resolution put forward on behalf of Arab States by Algeria demanding “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties”.

The latest Council meeting on the Middle East crisis spiralling outwards from the war in Gaza has ended, with another US veto and an abstention on the part of the UK, while Algeria’s resolution gained support from 13 out of the 15 members around the iconic horseshoe table.

Here are the key points:

HIGHLIGHTS

US uses veto power to quash Algeria’s draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and presents rival text that would condemn Hamas but also support a temporary ceasefire

The US is expected to circulate its own draft later on Tuesday but news reports suggest negotiations will be far from easy, with both Russia and China voicing strong opposition to the third use of a veto by the US on ceasefire resolutions

Council members lament continued suffering in Gaza and lambast possible Israeli military operation into Rafah….

Read more.

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

WATCH: Israel Launches Pilot Program to Replace Hamas with Local Leaders in Gaza City District

The pilot program in the Zeitoun neighborhood will include ending incitement in the schools 

Israel is preparing to carry out a pilot program that will see local authorities replace the Hamas terrorist group in governing the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun, Channel 12 reported.

The military began a major aerial and ground offensive in the district on Monday night to clear it of terrorists ahead of the initiative. Led by the 162nd Division, Israeli forces killed and captured dozens of terrorists and confiscated a large amount of ammunition.

According to the report, Israel’s goal is for community leaders to manage the reception and distribution of humanitarian aid to establish an alternative to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. Security forces will attempt to prevent the terrorist group from interfering with this process.

Gazan representatives recently met with Israeli officials to discuss the plan.

Notably, the plan does not involve a return to the north for the tens of thousands of Gazans who evacuated to a humanitarian zone in the southern Strip at the behest of the Israeli army. Instead, the pilot will be carried out with the residents who remained there.

Additionally, the pilot includes replacing the school curricula with textbooks that do not promote violent rejection of Israel and hatred towards Jews. Israeli leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of deradicalizing the Gaza population, including moderating the educational system, after Hamas is defeated.

Israeli War Cabinet member Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening referred to an international pilot in which moderate Arab countries would establish a civil administration to manage the Strip after the war ends, while Israel maintains full security control.

This civil administration would likely include “local Palestinians supported by some sort of regional committee or arrangement,” according to Gantz.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said that he wants to see local Palestinian community leaders govern Gaza instead of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

“Oslo was the mother of all sins. The difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now, and the P.A. wants to do it in stages,” Netanyahu said in December.

IDF building security road bisecting the Strip.

RELATED ARTICLE: Knesset Advances Bill To Recognize Fiancés as Family Members of Fallen Soldiers

EDITORS NOTE: This JNS – Jewish News Syndicate column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Netanyahu: ‘Hezbollah must understand—we will restore security’

The Israeli prime minister delivered the message to the Iranian terror proxy during a visit to troops stationed on Mount Hermon. 

February 22, 2024 / JNS — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Hezbollah on Thursday during a visit to troops stationed near the Lebanese border, telling the Iranian terrorist proxy that it “must understand—we will restore security.”

Surrounded by the snow-covered terrain of Mount Hermon, Netanyahu sat down with commanders from the 210th Division and the IDF Alpinist Unit.

They briefed him on the activities on the northern front, where Hezbollah has been conducting daily cross-border attacks since joining Hamas in the war that started on Oct. 7. Israel has been pounding Hezbollah targets from the air inside Lebanon and with artillery at the border.

“In the north, we have a simple goal: To return the residents [to their homes near the border with Lebanon]. In order to that, we must restore security—and this will be achieved. We will not relent here. We will achieve this in one of two ways: Militarily—if necessary; diplomatically—if possible,” Netanyahu said, according to a government statement.

In addition to the Alpinist Unit, troops from the 188th Brigade are currently deployed to Mount Hermon after departing Gaza one week ago.

RELATED ARTICLE: PICTURE OF THE DAY: Arafat’s house in Gaza

EDITORS NOTE: This JNS column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

EXCLUSIVE: Jim Banks Demands DOJ Investigate Midwest Nonprofit Linked To Chinese Communist Influence Network

Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks urged the Biden administration to probe a Midwestern nonprofit with extensive ties to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence and influence operations to determine if it violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to a letter shared exclusively with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Banks sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an inquiry into the United States Heartland China Association (USHCA), a 501(c)(3) bipartisan organization, which characterizes its mission as “building bridges and promoting opportunities” between 21 U.S. heartland states and China. However, USHCA leads trips to China for Midwestern mayors in cooperation with organizations affiliated with a Chinese government influence arm, and also employs multiple individuals belonging to such organizations, the DCNF reported.

Banks’s letter asks the DOJ to review whether or not USHCA may need to register under FARA, which “requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities,” according to the DOJ.

“I am writing to urge you to investigate the U.S. Heartland China Association (USHCA) for apparent violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), as revealed in a recent report from the Daily Caller News Foundation,” Banks’ letter states. “FARA requires all U.S. residents acting as agents of foreign governments to regularly file public disclosures with the Justice Department (DOJ) outlining their activities and describing their status as a foreign agent.”

Banks’ letter alleges that USHCA “acts in concert with the United Front to expand CCP influence within Indiana and the Midwest.”

The CCP utilizes an influence and intelligence collection strategy known as the “United Front,” which, among other things, targets “foreign actors and states,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The United Front is coordinated by the Chinese government’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), which “oversees many subordinate organizations,” including operations within the U.S., according to the House Select Committee on the CCP.

The UFWD “conceals its influence over groups like the USHCA through its use of proxy groups,” Banks’ letter alleges, citing USHCA’s partnership with the Chinese People’s Association For Friendship With Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) as an example.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has characterized CPAFFC as a “key organization” in the CCP’s United Front.

In November 2023, USHCA announced it had led a delegation of six mayors to China in order to “underscore the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and China.” Yet, Chinese state-run China Youth Daily reported that CPAFFC took credit for inviting the delegation to China.

“CPAFFC is the UFWD proxy responsible for managing and expanding sister relationships between the U.S. and China,” Banks’ letter states. “During the trip, the former Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, Jim Brainard, who also serves as vice chair of USHCA, ratified a sister-city agreement with Xiangyang, Hubei.”

The U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center has warned that CPAFFC “may exploit” sister-city agreements to “press its agendas.”

USHCA “will inevitably work with Chinese entities” because it “promotes people-to-people exchanges in culture, education and business between the Heartland and China,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit recently told the DCNF.

Mary Kissel, former senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told the DCNF that U.S. engagement with the United Front only benefits China.

“Please give me an example of when engagement with a United Front organization resulted in positive change on the Chinese side?” Kissel said. “The answer is, there is no example of that.”

The United Front’s “brazen” targeting of America’s heartland suggests far more extensive operations in high-population states, said Kissel, who’s now an executive vice president at Stephens, a private financial services firm.

“If they’ve done it in Missouri, what in the world are they doing in places like Florida or California or New York or Texas?” Kissel said. “Alarm bells should be going off.”

Banks’ letter to the DOJ also calls attention to USHCA’s leadership, which includes at least four individuals who’ve held positions at UFWD-affiliated entities, the DCNF reported.

“One of these senior USHCA officials, a strategic advisor named Zhao Suisheng, has worked directly for China’s government in a variety of advisory positions,” Banks’ letter states.

Zhao, who serves as the director of the University of Denver’s Center for China-U.S. Cooperation, told the DCNF he’d attended events hosted by several UFWD-affiliated organizations, such as the Center For China And Globalization (CCG), which lists him as an “expert” on its “academic advisory committee.” Zhao claims the reason he’s held advisory positions with Chinese government agencies and UFWD-affiliated organizations is because he’s an “independent scholar” studying “Chinese politics” and “United Front tactics.”

“USHCA is not an independent entity — it is a malign agent of our foremost foreign adversary,” Banks’ letter concludes.

AUTHOR

PHILIP LENCZYCKI

Investigative reporter.

RELATED ARTICLE: EXCLUSIVE: Communist Influence Network Is Deeply Involved With Nonprofit Connecting China To US Heartland

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Hamas didn’t just gang-rape children and women at gunpoint, they forced their families to watch.

“Hostages who have returned from Gaza have revealed grotesque sexual violence towards the hostages” — Jerusalem Post


“Most of those sexually assaulted by Hamas terrorists were killed afterward, and some even during the act of rape. Others still were found dead later, their genitals mutilated beyond recognition or penetrated with weapons.”

In one photo, a burned body appears to project anguish. In another, a woman lies naked from the waist down, her underwear hanging from her leg. In interviews, first responders haltingly describe finding naked female corpses tied to beds and survivors recount witnessing a gang rape at the music festival.

All of this is part of a mounting body of evidence of the gender-based crimes carried out by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.

Fourteen young girls remain hostage in Gaza.

Hamas terrorists forced families to watch loved ones get raped at gunpoint

TRIGGER WARNING: Most sexual assault victims of Hamas on October 7 were killed either before or during rape; several victims’ genitals were mutilated beyond recognition.

By Tamar Uriel-Beeri, Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2024:

(Warning: This story describes deeply disturbing events and testimonials in graphic detail.)

A report analyzing numerous testimonies from the October 7 massacre specifically relating to Hamas’s sexual violence revealed that families and friends were forced by Hamas terrorists to watch their loved ones be raped and sexually assaulted at gunpoint.

The report, presented by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, analyzes confidential and public testimonies, eye-witness accounts, and interviews with victims, first responders and witnesses. It was sent to “decision-makers” in the United Nations to leave “no room for denial or disregard.

“The terrorist organization Hamas chose to harm Israel strategically in two clear ways – kidnapping citizens and committing sadistic sexual crimes,” said ARCCI CEO Orit Sulitzeanu. “Silence will be remembered as a historical stain on those who chose to remain silent and deny the sexual crimes committed by Hamas.”

The report revealed that Hamas terrorists threatened victims, often injured women, with weapons in order to rape them violently, often collectively with collaboration between multiple terrorists.

Partners, family, and friends were forced to watch to “increase the pain and humiliation for all present.”

Most of those sexually assaulted by Hamas terrorists were killed afterward, and some even during the act of rape. Others still were found dead later, their genitals mutilated beyond recognition or penetrated with weapons.

The full extent of Hamas’s sexual crimes will probably never be known

The report highlighted that it cannot provide the full numerical measure of the extent of Hamas’s sexual violence, “most of which resulted in the victims’ deaths, making their full extent unknown and possibly unknowable.”

The sexual assaults occurred in four main locations: At the Nova Festival, in kibbutzim, on IDF bases, and in captivity.

Severe sexual assaults were reported on multiple occasions by eye-witnesses and first responders in the Nova Festival, including group rapes. On kibbutzim, women and girls alike were brutally assaulted, including at least one case of a knife being hidden in the genital organ of one such victim.

Soldiers on IDF bases were victims of sexual violence, as well, their bodies clearly indicated. Hostages who have returned from Gaza have revealed grotesque sexual violence towards the hostages, as well.

“As the scars in our hearts refuse to heal, and the souls of our sisters and brothers cry out to us from the depths of the earth, a significant portion of those we considered partners responded in silence and denial of these horrors,” the report’s authors, Dr. Carmit Klar-Chalamish and Noga Berger, wrote. “We call on you to raise your voices and not allow the cries of these victims to fade away.”

Continue reading.

AUTHOR

POSTS ON X:

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Church Attacks Increase 800% in less than 6 Years: FRC Report

If you believe anti-Christian attacks have skyrocketed over the last decade, you’re right. Attacks on churches have increased 800% in less than six years — and more than doubled over the last year, according to a new report released today by Family Research Council. Documented acts of anti-church hostility include attempted bombings, shootings, satanic vandalism, and numerous attacks based on anti-Christian bias due to support for abortion or extreme transgender ideology. Some constituted unpunished election interference.

The report identified 915 acts of hostility against churches between January 2018 and November 2023, including:

  • 709 acts of vandalism
  • 135 completed or attempted arsons
  • 32 bomb threats
  • 22 gun-related incidents
  • 61 other incidents, including assault, threats, and interruption of worship services.

These acts of “religious intimidation” send the message “that churches are not wanted in the community or respected in general,” Arielle Del Turco, who authored the report, told The Washington Stand. “Regardless of the motivations of these crimes, everyone should treat churches and all houses of worship with respect and affirm the importance of religious freedom for all Americans.”

The report shows that church attacks, and acts of violence, continued to explode in 2023. During the first 11 months of last year, researchers verified at least 436 acts of hostility against U.S. churches — more than double the number of attacks in all of 2022, including:

  • 315 acts of vandalism
  • 75 completed or attempted arsons
  • 20 bomb threats
  • 10 gun-related incidents
  • 12 instances of satanic graffiti
  • 59 churches faced repeated acts of hostility

These statistics likely understate the extent of the problem, because “[m]any acts of hostility against churches are likely not reported to authorities and/or are not featured in the news or other online sources from which we collected data,” says the report. “[T]he number of acts of hostility is undoubtedly much higher.”

Acts of anti-church hostility blanketed the country in 2023, taking place in 48 states and Washington, D.C. California experienced the largest number of incidents, with 91. Texas churches endured 62 incidents; New York had 58; and Florida had 47.

“The rise in hostility we identified in our December 2022 report has neither slowed nor plateaued; rather, it has accelerated,” says the new report. “The rise in crimes against churches is taking place in a context in which American culture appears increasingly hostile to Christianity. Criminal acts of vandalism and destruction of church property may be symptomatic of a collapse in societal reverence and respect.”

The raw numbers paint a grim picture of escalating anti-Christian action boiling over into bigoted action. The report totals:

  • 50 acts of hostility against churches in 2018
  • 83 in 2019
  • 55 in 2020
  • 96 in 2021
  • 195 in 2022
  • 436 in 2023

“If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked,” the last such report accurately predicted last April.

Although federal civil rights laws explicitly ban religious discrimination, and hundreds of assailants targeted houses of worship, only “a minority were under investigation as hate crimes,” according to the 157-page analysis, titled “Hostility Against Churches Is on the Rise in the United States.”

Deadly Shootings, Bomb Threats, and Political Ideology

The report’s longest section is a robust 97 pages of church attacks, verified through 50 pages of endnotes, which show bomb threats, shootings, politically motivated attacks, and explicit Satanism.

Transgender violence: Perhaps the most shocking act of anti-Christian bias took place last March 27, when transgender-identifying Audrey Hale opened fire at the Nashville Covenant School, operated by the Covenant Presbyterian Church, killing six people, including three young students. Hale, who frequently identified as a male named “Aiden,” told a friend she had left a manifesto and “plenty of evidence behind” attesting to her motive. Yet, aside from a few pages pried out of police hands by conservative commentator Steven Crowder, Hale’s manifesto remains hidden.

The assault is but one example of 2023’s transgender-related anti-church violence. Last January 3, a man named Cameron Storer who identifies as female set fire to Portland Korean Church, an historic, 117-year-old vacant building. Storer claimed that voices in his head threatened to “mutilate” him unless he set the church ablaze.

Transgender activist-vandals painted the message “TRANS PWR” on St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville, on March 3. The attack came one day after the Kentucky legislature overrode the veto of Governor Andy Beshear (D) to enact a law protecting children from transgender surgeries. Also in March, vandals cut down crosses in the cemetery of the Friendship United Methodist Church in Newton, North Carolina, shortly after it disaffiliated with the United Methodist denomination over the denomination’s liberalizing views on LGBT issues. On June 16, vandals spray-painted the words “Stay gay, stay hard, Love is 4 everyone” on Grace Community Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

The report does not include incidents that took place in 2024, such as Genesse Moreno — an ex-Muslim convert to Judaism who is not a U.S. citizen and whom neighbors say has identified as “transgender” — opening fire in Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston.

Bombings, shootings, and Molotov cocktails: Christian churches faced potential mass casualties from explosions or shootings in 2023. Someone set a five-gallon drum of gasoline ablaze inside Word of God Ministries in Shreveport last January, but fire personnel’s quick response limited the damage.

Last October 29, a man purloined Holy Communion from Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in San Fransisco. “After being confronted about it, the man punched the person who confronted him and ran out. Police pursued the man, who reportedly ‘set off a pipe bomb’ and ignited a ‘Molotov cocktail’ to deter police,” notes the report. Similarly, on July 17, a man threw Molotov cocktails through the windows of Living Stones Church in Reno, Nevada. In March, four people fired 50 rounds into Clearview Mennonite Church of Versailles, Missouri.

While some acts of violence seemed senseless, others carried a pointed political message. Many church assaults stemmed from the Christian church’s 2,000-year-old teaching that life begins at fertilization/conception, and abortion is murder.

Pro-abortion hostility: The number of church assaults peaked in June, the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, overturning Roe v. Wade. An arsonist set the Incarnation Roman Catholic Church in Orlando ablaze on the pro-life ruling’s first anniversary, although investigators could not determine if the date figured into the blaze.

But pro-abortion attacks on Christian churches continued unabated all year long. On January 18, just before the March for Life, someone vandalized the monument to the unborn at St. Rosalia Roman Catholic Church in Pittsburgh. Eight days later, someone desecrated a pro-life banner inside a Florida Catholic parish with the phrase “Women’s body, women’s choice.” Months later, on September 9, someone splattered red paint on a pro-life sign at the Second Baptist Church in Palermo, Maine, leaving behind two messages: “Abortion is our human right” and “Queer love 4 eva.” Vandals destroyed a pro-life display of 1,000 wooden crosses, representing unborn lives snuffed out by abortion, at a display in Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Acts of Anti-Christian Election Interference

Several of Ohio’s 24 reported church attacks involved the state’s Issue 1 campaign. The controversial constitutional amendment created a “right” for people of all ages to access abortion at essentially any point in pregnancy. Many constituted acts of election interference. “In October, someone pulled the ‘Vote No’ sign at Cincinnati’s St. Monica-St. George Church out of the ground and threw it in a dumpster,” notes the report. “At St. Bartholomew Church, also in Cincinnati, between six and eight ‘Vote No’ yard signs were removed from the church’s property and replaced with ‘Vote Yes’ signs.” Additional acts of pro-abortion election interference occurred at:

  • Cincinnati’s Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, Cincinnati, Ohio, where vandals stole or vandalized anti-Issue 1 signs one month before the election.
  • At St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in the university town of Oxford, home of (Miami University), a pro-life sign opposing Issue 1 “was cut in half, and many other similar church signs were vandalized or stolen.”
  • At the Church of the Incarnation in Centerville, “someone spray-painted the church’s front door window to cover up a sign opposing Ohio Issue 1.”

Issue 1 passed handily last November.

“Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hot-button political issues related to human dignity and sexuality,” says the report. “Attacks on houses of worship may also signal a discomfort with religion in general.”

Anti-Christian, Muslim-based hatred: Some acts of violence appeared to spring from Islamist sources. Last October, a man claiming to be with Hamas entered Sacred Heart Church in Cicero, New York, and threatened its employees.

International conflicts invaded U.S. churches throughout the year. Last September 24, vandals painted an anti-Christian, pro-Muslim slogan on St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown, Massachusetts. The message — “Artsakh is Dead, Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” which was taped to the Armenian church’s outdoor bulletin board — referred to a violent Christian-Muslim feud over control of Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh) between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

A few attacks also involved Jewish issues, including vandalizing a sign showing support for Israel and graffiti on one church denouncing “Israel’s genocide.”

Targeting minority churches: A few attacks targeted ethnic minorities. The report documents nine attacks targeting Missionary Baptist churches and six targeting parishes of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME). Additionally, on October 28, someone burned down Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, which serves the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Parmelee, South Dakota.

Some incidents straddled the line between arson and the demonic. “In June, Ascension of the Lord Romanian Orthodox Church of Hayward, California, was broken into, and several religious artifacts were set on fire, including a Bible and a crucifix. The charred items and ashes were left around an altar,” the report notes.

Whatever the purported motivation, many anti-church attackers directly invoked demonic forces in their attacks on the church, which the Bible identifies as “the Body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

Satan: “At least 12 incidents included satanic imagery or symbols,” the report notes. It goes on to specify numerous examples:

  • In July, vandals broke into Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church of El Paso, Texas, and left behind satanic imagery, including writing the number “666” on multiple items. Crosses inside the church were also turned upside down, and holy oil was dumped out.
  • In October, someone spray-painted the words “Devil Has Risen” and a symbol like a pentagram on the buildings of Jesus Worship Center in Jennings, Louisiana.”
  • Last February 4, vandals desecrated the Old Philadelphia Church — the oldest church in Izzard County, Arkansas — with inverted crosses and a pentagram.
  • Last October 7, someone spray-painted “Their [sic] is no God” on the marquee of Miracle Faith Christian Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
  • A vandal spray-painted “Lucifer Lives Here” and “God No More” on Bethlehem Church in Austin, Texas, on October 29.

These attacks leave aside the largest category of anti-church hostility: vandalism.

General anti-Christian vandalism: The 315 acts of vandalism against churches include disturbing reports, including:

  • A man broke into the Roman Catholic Subiaco Abbey Church of St. Benedict in Subiaco, Arkansas, busting the marble altar with a hammer and stealing 1,500-year-old relics.
  • Last January 12, vandals attacked five churches in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. One of its targets alone, Greater Tabernacle Worship Center, suffered $15,000 of damage.
  • The next day, a lone vandal targeted three Roman Catholics churches in New Jersey, setting fire to a flagpole in one, and attempting to burn a cross in front of another.
  • In January, a vandal spray painted “Mary is the whore of Babylon” inside a Roman Catholic church in Billings, Montana, in addition to stealing $8,300 of statutes and paintings, and doing $4,000 damage.
  • Weeks later, a man poured bleach on a statue of the Virgin Mary and threw a statue of Baby Jesus down the stairs at Good Shepherd Church in Fall River, Massachusetts.
  • A woman defecated and wiped feces on the altar of the chapel inside Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati on May 13.

The Biden administration cannot plead ignorance of church desecrations and vandalism targeting houses of worship: The administration actively warned such incidents would increase for the foreseeable future. Last May 27, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a bulletin warning of “a heightened threat environment” for churches and religious institutions, thanks to “the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues,” such as issues involving “the LGBTQIA+ community.” The Biden administration then opened its Faith-Based Security Advisory Council (FBSAC), allegedly to advise houses of worship on how to improve security. Biden’s handpicked FBSAC members included controversial street agitator Al Sharpton, LGBTQ activists, and “three Islamists.”

Experts say the skyrocketing number of attacks on churches mirrors the general anti-Christian tenor of the Biden administrations’ policies, at home and abroad. President Joe Biden’s “indifference abroad to the fundamental freedom of religion is rivaled only by the increasing antagonism toward the moral absolutes taught by Bible-believing churches here in the U.S.,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The Biden administration’s whole-of-government opposition to biblical morality is “fomenting this environment of hostility toward churches.”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Betrayed: Biden Regime Proposes Anti-Israel ‘Ceasefire’ Resolution at United Nations Security Council

Instead of demanding that the terrorists release of the 134 hostages (including Americans), the Democrat regime is demanding Israel surrender. Biden’s UN Resolution against Israel is depraved and shameful.

According to a Reuters report, the Democrat ruling regime is proposing a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, combined with an objection to the planned IDF invasion of Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.

Betrayed: Biden Proposes Anti-Israel Temporary ‘Ceasefire’ Resolution at United Nations Security Council

By: Breitbart News, February 19, 2024:

President Joe Biden plans to introduce a resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a temporary “ceasefire” and demanding Israel refrain from conducting an attack on the last Hamas battalions in Gaza that are the key to winning the war.

Israel has been adamant that it must attack Hamas in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza on the Egyptian border, to win the war. Rafah is the last stronghold of the Palestinian terror organization, and also the key to smuggling routes into and out of Gaza.

The White House has said publicly that it would not support an attack on Rafah, at least without an evacuation of civilians. Even after Israel promised to develop a plan to evacuate civilians, the Biden administration has opposed an Israeli operation in Gaza.

That opposition has continued despite a successful Israeli raid last Monday that rescued two civilian Israeli hostages from Rafah. It has become evident that Biden intends to let Hamas survive, to use it as leverage to force Israel to accept a Palestinian state.

The U.S. promised to veto a resolution, set to be introduced Tuesday by Algeria, calling for a permanent ceasefire. But the Times of Israel reported Monday on a draft alternative resolution by the U.S. that would use the word “ceasefire,” in a temporary sense.

The Times of Israel noted:

The United States has proposed a rival draft of the United Nations Security Council resolution that would underscore the body’s “support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable,” according to the text seen by Reuters on Monday.

Washington has been averse to the word “ceasefire” in any UN action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the US draft text echoes language that US President Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US draft text also “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries.”

It is unclear whether the language in the resolution opposing an attack on Hamas in Rafah would be binding.

Hamas has insisted on a permanent ceasefire before it releases the remaining 134 Israeli hostages — a demand that the Biden administration has now ratified by seeking a temporary ceasefire that it openly hopes will lead to a broader halt to the fighting, despite the fact that Hamas would survive.

Read more.

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Minneapolis Muslim trained at ISIS camp, said he would ‘shoot New York up. We going to come blow New York up’

How many others are there like Harafa Hussein Abdi in Minneapolis? Such questions, of course, are “Islamophobic.”

“U.S. Citizen Charged with Providing Material Support to Isis And Receiving Military-Type Training at Isis Fighter Camp,” Justice Department, February 16, 2024:

A complaint was unsealed today charging Harafa Hussein Abdi, 41, of Minneapolis, with providing and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from ISIS. Abdi, a U.S. citizen, was recently taken into custody overseas and was transported to the United States yesterday. Abdi will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo in Manhattan federal court later today….

As alleged in the complaint, Abdi, moved from Minnesota to Somalia in 2015. Once there, he joined a group of ISIS fighters at an ISIS training camp in the Puntland region of Somalia. During his time with the group, Abdi regularly carried an AK-47 assault rifle and received training on how to use it. In addition, Abdi worked in the ISIS group’s “media” wing, where he filmed footage for distribution by a pro-ISIS media outlet.

In social media communications during his time at the ISIS camp, Abdi described how he had left the United States and joined the “Islamic state.” Abdi also stated that he had made “hijra,” an Arabic term used by ISIS supporters to refer to traveling overseas to join ISIS and engage in jihad. Abdi also sent a photograph of himself carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, as depicted below:

In or about January 2017, Abdi sent an audio clip of rap lyrics in which he expressed support for ISIS and described multiple acts of violence, including shooting and bombing individuals in New York City. Specifically, Abdi stated, “hollow tips put a hole in your Catholic vest, and chop his head off let it rest on his Catholic chest.” Abdi further stated, “We going to carry on jihad”; “Fly through America on our way to shoot New York up. They trying to shut this thing. We ain’t going. We going to come blow New York up.” Abdi sent the audio clip to at least 20 other social media users and included messages with the audio clip, such as “Fighting back the kuffar who’s at war with Muslims if [that] is not islam then I don’t know wats Islam.”

Abdi left the ISIS camp in 2017 after his relationship with the ISIS group’s leadership deteriorated. After being jailed by the group, Abdi escaped and traveled to East Africa, where he was arrested by law enforcement authorities. In subsequent Mirandized interviews with FBI personnel, Abdi admitted that he had joined the training camp, which was affiliated with a known ISIS leader in Somalia. Abdi also identified himself in an ISIS propaganda video that he helped to film at the training camp in which Abdi carried an AK-47 assault rifle, promoted ISIS and urged others to join and fight on its behalf. In the video, Abdi said, “We thank almighty God for making us His soldiers and chose us to be among the Khilafa troops,” and “So do not stay behind, brother, and get on this caravan…. Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil.” Abdi also admitted that he was trained on and regularly carried an AK-47 assault rifle and practiced shooting the AK-47 in the Somali wilderness outside the camp….

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Parents of Americans Held in Gaza: ‘We Are All Hostages of Hamas’

They know the underground of the U.S. Capitol like the back of their hands. “I have walked more distance in these corridors than I have in my own house,” Ronen Neutra says wistfully. “I can’t believe this is our life.” The 135 days since her son was taken hostage by Hamas have been a sleepless nightmare. “We don’t have day and night,” she admitted. “… It all becomes very blurry to us.” And like the other five American families waiting for word about their loved ones, there’s no end in sight.

Omer was just 22 when he was pulled out of his IDF tank by terrorists and marched to Gaza. A dual citizen who grew up in New York City, he was born just a month after 9/11 — the last time the world was rocked by such unspeakable evil. Omer decided to join the Israel Defense Forces during his gap year before college in the U.S. He picked the tank brigade because he heard “it was among the army’s toughest jobs.”

His unit was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades, the Neutras pieced together from online videos and information from the two governments. That’s when his fate became linked to Edar Alexander, another American-Israeli citizen, who grew up a short train ride from Manhattan. At just 20, he decided to join Garin Tzabar, which trains young people from around the world who want to join the IDF. He was assigned to the infantry at the same base, one month before the attack. Not far from Omer’s tank, the young 20-year-old was surrounded by Hamas militants, standing alone with his rifle.

Now, the two families, who lived a handful of miles apart in New York, are linked by something far more tragic: the unknown fate of their sons. Almost every week, The New York Times reports, the families are on a plane to either Washington or Israel, meeting with international leaders. There’s no certainty that Omer or Edar — two of the six remaining American hostages — are even alive. Of the 130 hostages still in Gaza, the Wall Street Journal estimates that at least 50 may be dead.

“Every day has been like five days,” Orna tells reporters. Friday nights, Shabbat, are the hardest. That’s when she and her husband Ronen, both children of Holocaust survivors, would video chat with Omer at his army base. With hope they don’t feel, the families bought “new, larger dining room tables” for happier times when they’re all reunited. Willing him to be okay, the Neutras even flew to Israel to rent an apartment so that Omer will have a place to go when he’s released. “We wanted to create the reality that he is coming home very soon,” she said.

They wait, fear, and prepare for a reunion they pray will come. At rally after rally, Orna reads a variation of the same words, “We miss your laugh, and your beautiful smile, so, so much, Edani,” While they try not to think about what Omer and Edar are enduring at the hands of Hamas, both sets of parents can’t help but worry. “We are very fearful,” Ronen told The Daily Caller, “130 days without a sign of life, without knowing his medical condition, without any medical crew — including the Red Cross — allowed to go and visit him and the rest of the hostages. Who knows what his condition is? We have no idea … So how should we feel? I don’t know. I mean, we are very fearful, very nervous.”

But honestly, he said, “We don’t have time to think about ourselves and feel pity about the situation, or anything else for the most part.” Their sole focus is spending every waking second working to bring their sons home.

While the rest of America goes about its days, the Neutras and Alexanders try to keep the government focused on the innocents 5,600 miles away. As recently as last Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that the U.S. is “working intensely with Egypt, with Qatar, on a proposal to bring about their release.” He talked about meeting with the families like Ronen and Orna’s. “The agony that they face … — not knowing the fate of their loved ones — is beyond our imaginations.”

Just as torturous, they admit, is watching the world turn on Israel — their one hope for eliminating the terrorists. Omer’s dad argues, “Get rid of Hamas and give us back our hostages [and] Israel will stop immediately.” Until then, he lamented, “It feels like Hamas is holding hostage the whole Western world. “They’re holding onto our kid. We are definitely hostages. And everyone’s hands are tied…”

Right now, Israeli leaders say, Hamas’s demands are “delusional.” “We want a deal very much and we know we need to pay prices,” a former IDF commander told CNN over the weekend. “But Hamas’s demands are disconnected from reality.”

Past negotiations were not executed in good faith, they point out. In other deals, Hamas promised to deliver medicine to the hostages, only for IDF soldiers to find those medications untouched “with the names of Israeli hostages on them” during the rain on Nasser Hospital.

To the people who say Israel should just back off and leave Gaza alone, Ronen and Orna say it’s time for the world to learn some history and the longtime “abuse of power by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.” “Israel has been fighting for its survival since [its founding]…” Orna insisted. “They still need to fight for their survival,” Orna told the Daily Caller. “Take the time and look at the issues before you take a stance on them.”

The important thing is for Israel to ignore the naysayers, focus on the job at hand, and eliminate Hamas. “It’s time,” Ronen urged. “It’s so urgent [for the hostages]. Every day that there is a delay in reaching a deal is putting a death sentence on some of them.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden Administration Has No Idea Who Should Run A Palestinian State

The Bidenites are making their insidious plans to pressure Israel to accept a Palestinian state, by agreeing to be squeezed back within the 1949 armistice lines, with a nine-mile-wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea. Israel is already, with 8,630 square miles, among the tiniest countries in the world; its current size — before the reductions the Bidenites are planning — is 8,630 square miles. The 22 Arab states are spread across 5 million square miles — that is, they are 632 times as large as Israel. Now the administration wants to shrink Israel further still, in order to create a 23rd Arab state. Washington has been planning — plotting might be a more accurate word — with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Pakistan — what territories Israel will be forced to give up if there is to be “peace” in the Middle East, which can only be achieved, the Bidenites devoutly believe, through a “two-state solution.” After all, why would everyone call it a “solution” unless it were exactly that? The Bidenites look forward to forcing Israel to remove its “settlers” from the West Bank, as was done in Gaza in 2005. They don’t seem to realize that there are half a million so-called settlers living in the West Bank. It was difficult enough to uproot 8,000 Israelis from Gaza in 2005; the notion that the Israeli government would uproot 500,000 Israelis from their towns and cities in Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank) is hallucinatory. And unlike the Bidenites, the Israelis know that their claim to retain that territory is solidly based on the Mandate for Palestine which, in turn, was based on 3500 years of the Jewish people’s connection to, and presence in, the Land of Israel.

Given its planning the lineaments of a “Palestinian state,” one would expect that the Bidenites would have a clear idea of who, in their view, should be chosen to run that state. But one would be wrong. A recent exchange in Congress between Rep. Brian Mast and Bonnie Jenkins, a high-ranking member of Blinken’s State Department, shows that the Bidenites have no idea as to who will run this Palestinian state. More on this telling exchange can be found here: “Biden admin official repeatedly won’t say who’d run Palestinian state,” JNS, February 16, 2024:

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) pressed Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. under secretary of state for arms control and international security, repeatedly at a House hearing about who would run the Palestinian state, for which the Biden administration is calling.

“Have you analyzed that objectively?” he asked Jenkins, of the policy of a Palestinian state.

No I have not, if I understand your question,” she said, testifying on Feb. 14 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “AUKUS implementation and challenges to international security and arms control in the 21st century.”

You might not, because I can’t believe that you would answer it in that way,” Mast said.

Jenkins then said she had assessed it.

Who would you assess would lead that Palestinian state?” Mast asked. “Pick a group. You can name a group, but I’m saying Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, some other group. Who would lead it?”

I think that has to be something that’s considered. I don’t think I’m in a position to say,” Jenkins said….

She hasn’t the faintest idea who might be fit to lead that Palestinian state. It’s not because she is out of the loop; she’s an under secretary at the State Department. Her ignorance and indecision reflect that of the Bidenites above her, who are so preoccupied with preventing the IDF from entering Rafah and finishing off Hamas, and with their plan to then squeeze Israel back within the 1949 armistice lines, that they have not done the very thing they accuse the Netanyahu government of not doing — which is preparing for “the day after.”

Mast continued to press the State Department official. “What group that does not receive military support from, say, Iran do you assess would lead that state?” he asked….

Mast is making an important point: every Palestinian terror group —Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP — receives aid from Iran. Perhaps he wanted to hear her name the Palestinian Authority, which does not receive aid from Iran, but is colossally corrupt — Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons Yasser and Tarek have accumulated a family fortune of $400 million — and deeply unpopular, with 80% of Palestinians ruled by the Authority saying that they want Abbas to resign.

When Mast asked Jenkins to say, without naming who would run the Palestinian state, whether there has been an assessment of who would run it, the official said, “Put it this way. There will be an assessment of this question with within the U.S. government.”

Or put it this way: the Bidenites have been making pronouncements about the need for a “Palestinian state” and pushing forward, with Arab states but not Israel, with plans to create that state. But not only do they have no idea who would or should run it; they haven’t even begun to do an “assessment” of the possible candidates. It simply hasn’t come up.

He moved on to another line of questioning. “Do you assess that a Palestinian state would be more likely to be designated as a major non-NATO ally, like Israel or Egypt, or would you assess that they would have to be labeled a state sponsor of terror?” he asked.

Jenkins said she couldn’t answer the question.

You are in the position to answer if you have assessed whether that would be the case,” Mast said. “You came here, sitting before Congress saying you are here representing the idea that there should be a Palestinian State. You said you looked at it objectively, which you probably didn’t. And I’m asking if you assessed that. So you can answer whether you assessed something or not.”…

Jenkins was there, before a congressional committee, to make the case for a Palestinian state. Yet she had no idea as to possible candidates being assessed for their fitness to govern that state, or even whether such an assessment had been begun. She is remarkably ill-informed, or rather, her bosses are themselves ill-prepared to discuss what group or individual should be in charge of that Palestinian state.

Jenkins made quite a spectacle of herself. She could not answer the simplest of questions about a future Palestinian state. She did not offer any guidance as to what groups might be considered suitable by Washington to run that state. She did not even know if the Bidenites were “assessing” those who might be considered. She had no thoughts as to whether a group that is supplied weapons by Iran, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, could still be eligible to run the new state. When Representative Mast asked what she thought about creating a state for people who had just committed atrocities, she was unable to answer, claiming “I just don’t feel like I’m in the position right now that I can answer those type of questions. This is a question for the U.S. government.” Mast reminded her that she was part of the U.S. government and, he might have added, she had been sent to testify before Congress on precisely “those type of questions” about a future Palestinian state.

She is no different from her bosses, Joe Biden and Antony Blinken, except that she is willing to admit to her ignorance, while they are not. This administration does not know where to put its hands and feet. No good can come of this.

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Watch Border 911 with former Director of ICE Tom Homan and former Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem

America is not simply experiencing a rush across the once semi-secure southern Border. America is deliberately under attack.

Those in public office, regardless of political party, whose loyalty is elsewhere than America First, are encouraging the onslaught leading to the collapse of this Republic. Make no mistake, a sophisticated plan was launched by Una-party/Globalist elected and related to collapse the United States into the New-World Order. The flood of humanity illegally flowing into America is one example of the plan launched to destroy our sovereignty.

Former Director of ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) Tom Homan and former Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem are my guests. Director Homan is announcing a program he launched called Border911. You will learn the seriousness of this program and where he is taking this over the next ten months. Mark Finchem is wholeheartedly participating given the critical position of Arizona in relation to the border, and as a candidate seeking the Office of State Senator.

I have met Tom Homan previously away from cameras and the public, and his sincerity and patriotism is beyond reproach. His caring heart for the values of America and what we are on course to lose if people do not step up immediately and say, “Enough” are also real and measurable. I urge you to reach out and learn about Border911 now; please don’t wait.

WATCH: Border 911

Copyright 2024. Lyle J. Rapacki, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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Ukraine & Russia were close to a Peace Agreement — DEMOCRATS & NATO told Ukraine NOT to sign it!

Yes. The United States government and NATO sent Boris Johnson to dissuade Zelensky from to signing it!

The war in Ukraine would have ended in April of 2022 as Russia and Ukraine had agreed to a tentative peace plan.

Then, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson happened.

Boris Johnson landed in Ukraine unannounced, catching even the Ukrainian regime by surprise.

Startling details of the intent of Boris Johnson’s sudden visit to Ukraine are now beginning to come out.

It turns out, the then British prime minister, at the behest of the ‘West’, scuttled any chances of Ukraine and Russia settling for peace.

WATCH: The UK May Have Stopped Peace Between Russia and Ukraine.

Four references are below to show the reliability of the following message showing that Ukraine and Russia were very close to a peace agreement but Biden and Democrats told Ukraine NOT to sign it. Please forward this to the “blind” people.

-Two top reliable Israelis show in the following interviews that Ukraine and Russia were very close to a peace agreement but Biden and Democrats told Ukraine NOT to sign it (in 2022): —The Israeli history expert, Avigdor Eskin, says in the minute 14:30 to 18:30:

Video in Hebrew as a reference:

Biden and the Democrats prevented a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine in order to weaken the Russians in the battle – the agreement went through 17 versions in rapid negotiations mediated by Israeli PM Bennett but the Americans prevented Zelensky of signing the agreement – which caused the killing of 150,000 Ukrainians (up to 2022) and the destruction of infrastructure on video interview at minute 14:30 on the link with Dr. Uri Milstein (top history investigator) as an interviewer, on video in Hebrew for reference only:

In another video interview- At minute 2:30:00, Israeli former PM, Bennett, talks about the mediation he did between Russia and Ukraine in the video (in Hebrew -for reference only:

Victor Davis Hanson (top military historian) was interviewed on the Epoch Times on 2-14-24 on the topic of: Trump would work with Russia to avoid the Ukraine war and keep them as friends to cooperate with them against the real Chinese threat, from minute 41:00 to the end (and on Obama lies, on minute 11:30 to 16:15 ) :

Victor Davis Hanson on Tucker’s Putin Interview, Wars Being Waged, and the Left’s New Strategy 

Copyright 2024. Udi Geva. All rights reserved.

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Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sanow on ‘Global Conflicts and their Resolution’

On Dissent Television we are honored to have Jeffrey Sanow a a 24-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Jeffrey is an accomplished social skills instructor and expert at training military members and civilian intelligence personnel in the art of leveraging civilian business tools for the conduct of intelligence operations.

In simpler terms, it was Jeffery’s job to recruit spies and steal secrets.

Jeffrey retired from the CIA in 2009 and taught intelligence operations at the Advanced Tradecraft Center and at the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center.

Jeffrey served as a Senior Instructor focused on providing clients with the necessary planning, communications and field skills for U.S. government affiliated and commercial sector-based intelligence operations.

As a result of years in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, first as an agriculture development technician and then as a CIA field operations officer, Jeffrey developed a deep, personal understanding of the three monotheistic religions, their social constructs, and the inherent conflicts within.

Combined with his experience and desire to help, Jeffrey speaks with Dissent Television host Dr. Rich Swier understanding the nature of the conflicts and their resolution.

Copyright 2024.  Dissent Television and Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

JIHADI TRENDS: What Is On The Horizon In 2024?

The Hamas attack against Israel on October 7, 2023, has reinvigorated jihadi groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, which are reprioritizing the cause of “Palestine” and the fight against the “Jews” and their “Crusader” allies as a key foundation of their messaging campaigns which aims at expanding their global threat landscape.

Similarly, the Hamas-Israel war has given Iran the opportunity to showcase the capacity of its restructured network of militias in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, demonstrating its strategic reach and durability.

The conflict shows no signs of abating as it approaches the four-month mark. 2024 will bring substantial challenges for counterterrorism agencies worldwide as jihadi groups plan to exploit the significant increase in antisemitic incidents in Europe and the U.S. in particular.

The following is an assessment, prepared by the MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Moni­tor (JTTM) research team, whose members are stationed around the world, on the global jihadi threat in 2024. This report covers select developments from 2023 into mid-January 2024.

The first section of this report examines the trajectories of Salafi jihadi groups such as Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and their offshoots. The second section focuses on the activities of Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” and its exploitation of the shifting dynamics to advance Iran’s influence in the region.

ISIS Leadership

Despite significant losses among senior ranks of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), both groups appear to have adapted by successfully decentralizing their command structures. The identity of ISIS’s fifth Caliph Abu Hafs Al-Hashimi Al-Quraishi’s remaining unknown has not led members or supporters to openly question his credentials.[1] After months of declining activity globally, ISIS marked the new year of 2024 by announcing a new military campaign[2] in support of Gaza that involved claiming a high-profile attack in Kerman, Iran.[3]

Following the January 4, 2024, audio message by ISIS Spokesman Abu Ḥudhayfah Al-Ansari[4] in which he pledged to escalate attacks across all regions in support of the “Muslims” in Gaza, a question looms as to whether the new Caliph will release his first audio speech in 2024 or be killed first. The current caliph was announced in an August 2023 audio message delivered by his spokesman Al-Ansari. His two predecessors, Abu Ibrahim and Abu Al-Hassan, were killed by U.S. forces in Syria in 2022. [5] In November 2023, the pro-ISIS Bariqah News Agency hinted that an audio or video message by the Caliph might not be ready for quite some time.[6]

Al-Qaeda Leadership

Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda, in the 18 months since the July 2022 killing of Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a U.S. airstrike in Kabul, has neither acknowledged his death nor appointed a new leader,[7] though the umbrella organization remains active in Somalia, the African Sahel, and, to a lesser extent, in Yemen.

The question of succession looms large for Al-Qaeda. Many supporters hope that a new leader will be appointed in 2024 to revive globally the battered image of the organization, which has been in relative decline since the emergence of ISIS. The organization’s ability to execute attacks in the West has been the focus of many publications since the war between Hamas and Israel broke out. But the group’s last claimed attack in the West was against Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida in December 2019.[8]

Speculation among critics and supporters about who might succeed Al-Zawahiri continue to place veteran commander Sayf Al-Adl, who reportedly is living in Iran, as the top candidate, while some say he is the current caretaker of the organization.[9]

There has been an increase in Al-Qaeda media activities in 2023, such as the release of publications highlighting Sayf Al-Adl’s role, which may be seen as preparation to declare him the new leader in 2024. These have included promoting books by senior leaders and articles by Al-Adl himself.[10] If Al-Adl becomes the organization’s leader, Al-Qaeda will need to justify his residency in Iran, which is quite problematic for an organization whose Salafi ideology vilifies Shi’ites like those who run the Iranian regime, unless Al-Adl has been able to relocate to Afghanistan, as a 2023 UN report claims.[11] Al-Adl being in Afghanistan is also a public affairs challenge to the Taliban regime.

Europe

After Hamas’s October 7, 2023 attack on Israel, jihadis flooded the internet with praise for the killings of Jews, despite the historical enmity between Iran-backed Hamas and jihadi groups.[12] Capitalizing on the rise of antisemitism, particularly among pro-Palestinian protesters in the West, ISIS’s rhetoric reflects a hope that the Israeli operation in Gaza that followed the October 7 attack will inspire attacks by ISIS supporters in the West.[13] [14] In a recent speech, the ISIS spokesman recently instructed supporters in the U.S. and Europe to execute attacks in support of Gaza.

Meanwhile, ISIS’s exploitation of individual incidents similar to the burning of the Quran in Sweden is likely to continue into 2024, since doing so supports its message that the war against ISIS is a war on Islam.[15]

In 2023, European governments have tightened security after a series of ISIS-linked incidents, including attacks in Belgium[16] and France,[17] as well as activity targeting a synagogue in Germany and the arrest of ISIS sympathizers recruiting in Italy.[18]

Within this vicious cycle of incitement against the Jews and their “Crusaders” allies, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, marked the new year by re-launching its English-language magazine, “Inspire,” which advised on how to execute attacks in Western countries.[19] The publication had been in hiatus for years.

The magazine, which is now released as a video, offers supporters what it described as “open-source jihad” content inciting them to conduct attacks in the U.S., UK, France, and other EU countries as retribution for Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip following the October 7 attack.

United States

The Hamas-Israel war is also feeding into the narrative of jihadi clerics living in the West, such as the notorious Michigan-based Ahmad Jibril, who appear to be emboldened by the pro-Palestinian protests in the U.S. and Europe. Jibril recently told Muslims in Western countries that they should normalize jihad and teach it to their kids, which could promote the spread on social media of content that incites attacks.[20]

Recent reporting on undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border to commit attacks on behalf of foreign actors suggests that the border crisis in the U.S. poses a terrorism risk.[21] However, the threat to America is not restricted to Salafi jihadi groups.

Iran’s “Axis of Resistance,” including Lebanese Hizbullah, Yemen’s Houthis, and Iraqi militias, which have been claiming attacks against Israel and U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq in support of Hamas, pose a parallel threat, as seen in a plot to attack Jews in Brazil that was foiled on November 9, 2023, with the arrest of two men linked to the Lebanese Hizbullah.[22]

Canada

Jihadi clerics in Canada such as Tariq Abdulhaleem are capitalizing on the Hamas-Israel war to incite violence against America.[23] On December 13, 2023, the Egyptian-born pro-Al-Qaeda cleric wrote on Telegram, countering U.S. President Joe Biden’s remarks the day before that “there is a real concern around the world that America is losing its moral center” because of its support for Israel. He went on to claim that the scenes of “merciless,” “brutal” killing of innocent native Americans, portrayed in the 1970 Hollywood movie Soldier Blue, is analogous to Israel’s actions today in Gaza, taken “with America’s support and funding.”

Additionally, on October 22, 2023, the pro-Al-Qaeda media outlet Jaysh Al-Malahem Al-Electroni (“Electronic Army of Epic Battles”) published a three-page Arabic-language statement claiming an attack on a synagogue in Montreal, Canada, using rifles and Molotov cocktails.[24]

The Gulf, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, And Jordan

The Hamas-Israel war could also trigger violence in stable Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both governments are accused by jihadis of abandoning the “Muslims of Gaza” in favor of normalizing ties with Israel.[25]

In recent weeks ISIS’s supporting entities have launched a poster campaign aiming at discrediting the governments of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Jordan, inciting their Muslim-majority populations to attack military targets as retribution for their governments’ failing to support Gaza.

Iran’s alliance with Hamas and Shi’ite factions in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon make Iran a high-priority target for ISIS, as demonstrated by the January 3, 2024 attack on a ceremony commemorating the late IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Kerman, which comes as part of ISIS’s effort to disrupt Iran’s expansionist project in the Middle East. It is worth noting that on October 26, 2022, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on another Shi’ite shrine in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.[26]

On January 28, 2024, the Islamic State (ISIS) official A’maq News Agency claimed that two of the organization’s fighters had attacked a church in the Büyükdere neighborhood of Istanbul. This is the first attack ever claimed by ISIS’s Turkey Province. Turkish officials announced that the two gunmen that they arrested were ISIS members from Tajikistan and Russia. While ISIS claimed attacks in the country in 2016 and 2017, it did not designate an official Turkey Province at the time. In an April 2019 video, ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was shown perusing booklets about ISIS branches worldwide, including one marked “Turkey Province,” and in July 2019 the organization’s Turkey Province released its only official video.[27]

Philippines

In East Asia, the Philippines will be among ISIS’s top operational priorities in 2024. This projection is based on the notable rise in attacks in the country during the last weeks of 2023 and the recent editorial in the ISIS weekly, Al-Naba’. [28] The Islamic State East Asia Province (ISEAP) has claimed four attacks in Philippines since September 2023, including a deadly explosion that killed four people at a Catholic mass on December 3 at Mindanao State University in Marawi.[29] The attack rekindles fears that ISEAP might be planning to recapture Marawi, which was the site of a five-month battle between ISEAP-affiliated groups and the Philippine military in 2017 before the latter regained control.

The Al-Naba’ editorial further stoked those fears when it singled out the Philippines as a land of jihad and one of the battlegrounds on which ISIS should fight Christian governments and foreign powers aiming to change the demographics of the southern Philippines and to fight Islam there. The editorial also said that the December 3 bombing of the Catholic mass in Marawi drew attention to the Philippines, where the “chapters of war continue to this day.”

West And Central Africa

The Islamic State (ISIS) maintains several active provinces in Africa – the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Islamic State Sahel Province, Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP), and Islamic State Somalia Province. The ISIS provinces in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula did not claim any attacks during 2023. The Sinai Province claimed its most recent attack on the last day of 2022 and the Libya Province in January 2022. The ISIS affiliate in Tunisia, which is not officially designated as an ISIS province, has not claimed an attack since 2021. [30]

The most prolific and powerful of ISIS’s affiliates in Africa – and arguably its strongest affiliate worldwide – is ISWAP, which claimed more than 260 attacks during 2023, compared to over 530 in 2022. ISWAP is most active in northeastern Nigeria, specifically Borno State. During 2022-2023, the group expanded its operations southward and westward to include nine out of Nigeria’s 36 states, most recently furthering its activities to Jigawa State in April 2023.

The group also continued to perpetrate small-scale attacks in parts of Niger and Cameroon near the Nigerian border, although Chad saw its most recent ISWAP attack in July 2022, with no operations claimed during 2023. ISCAP claimed just over 100 attacks in 2023, compared to more than 160 in 2022. While almost all were perpetrated in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a handful of October and December operations that targeted and killed Christians, including a British citizen, were carried out across the border inside Uganda. [31]

ISMP claimed over 50 attacks in northeastern Mozambique during 2023, a marked decline from 2022, during which, according to ISIS’s official A’maq Agency, the group executed 156 attacks in that country.[32] The ISIS Somalia Province claimed only about ten small-scale attacks in 2023, targeting government forces in Mogadishu and in the Puntland State of northeastern Somalia. During 2022, it claimed 32 attacks.[33] In 2023, as in previous years, a major target of ISIS affiliates ISCAP, ISWAP, and ISMP was the local Christian population, which the mujahideen terrorized with attacks on villages, beheadings, and burnings of homes and churches, hoping to trigger a Christian exodus.

Although the vast majority of its attacks occur in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno and Yobe states, ISWAP continued to expand southward into other parts of the country throughout 2022 and 2023. As of January 2024, it has claimed attacks in ten out 36 Nigerian states.[34] A concerning phenomenon is the massacres of Christians perpetrated by ISCAP, ISMP, and ISWAP. These violent attacks seem likely to continue – and indeed have featured prominently in the “And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them” campaign launched by ISIS on January 4[35] – until the remaining Christians are displaced from areas of jihadi activity or until the ISIS affiliates in the DRC, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Cameroon are restrained.

The African Sahel

The sub-Saharan Sahel will continue to be a stage for Al-Qaeda and ISIS attacks as both sides are showing enthusiasm to further exploit the ever-changing security landscape in the region following the withdrawal of France from Mali. The armed clashes over territory, resources, and access to local populations to gain support that started around February 2020 between ISIS-Sahel and Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the African Sahel, Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimeen (the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims – GSIM) will likely continue. Both groups will likely continue to try to push south into new territory, beyond Mali and Burkina Faso.

The end of the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mandate,[36] coupled with the advent of the Russian state-backed private military company (PMC), the Wagner Group, has contributed directly to an increase in GSIM operations and expanded the security vacuum in the counter-jihadi effort in Mali and Burkina Faso. GSIM leader Iyad Ag Ghaly announced in a December 12, 2023 video that the advance of the Malian Army, together with the Wagner Group, to northern Mali has begun a “new stage of jihad” in the Sahel, calling on Muslims in the Sahel to join GSIM and encouraging the group’s base of jihadis to manifest further adherence to jihad as a path to topple governments and defeat the “Crusader” allies.[37]

Tactically, the Sahel could witness in 2024 a surge in GSIM suicide attacks in line with Ghaly’s speech in which he noted that many fighters have joined GSIM’s “Martyrdom Units.” GISM claimed five suicide attacks in 2023, the last of which was on December 22, just a few weeks after Ghaly’s speech.[38]

Data collected by MEMRI JTTM in 2023 shows that GSIM claimed responsibility for over 290 attacks, including 117 attacks against Burkinabe forces alone, higher than any year since the conflict started. The pace of attacks in November and December indicates that GSIM attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso will continue at a faster pace moving into 2024. The scale of GSIM operations will potentially result in a shift in areas of control and would likely result in humanitarian issues as fighting continues. According to the United Nations, over 80 civilians were killed or wounded in a GSIM attack on Internally Displaced People’s camps in Djibo, Burkina Faso in which 400 GSIM fighters were reportedly killed.[39]

ISIS’s affiliate in Sahel, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), has nearly doubled the territory it controls in Mali while maintaining a modest but steady insurgency in Burkina Faso and western Niger.[40]

Even though the ISIS branch’s claims of attacks are relatively infrequent, many are large-scale operations such as the attack against a base of the Malian army and the Russian Wagner group, south of the city of Ansongo, northwestern Mali, which resulted in “complete control” of the base and seizure of a large assortment of spoils. [41]

The group’s growing interest in the Sahel was clearly demonstrated in an August 2023 article published in ISIS weekly newsletter, Al-Naba’, which detailed attacks targeting Nigerien soldiers, the pro-Malian government militia, Imghad Tuareg Self-Defense Group and Allies (Groupe d’Autodéfense Tuareg Imghad et Alliés – GATIA), and a staffer executed for allegedly working for German forces.[42] Further, the article reflected ISIS’s interests in attracting tribes and the Muslim population by highlighting the activity of its hisbah (i.e., morality police), which had carried out several executions and amputations of alleged criminals and extended its reach northward into new areas.

Somalia

In Somalia, the violent activity of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate Al-Shabab grew significantly in 2023 with attacks on security forces[43] that will continue to escalate against regional or international forces as part of Al-Qaeda’s “Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized” campaign after the October 7 attack, which an Al-Qaeda General Command statement commended and framed as a successful blow to the “unbelieving West” that backs Israel, calling on Muslims to support the Palestinians and to wage jihad themselves.[44]

In 2023, Al-Shabab claimed several attacks on joint convoys of U.S. and U.S.-trained Somali forces, reporting that one such operation had wounded several U.S. service members.[45] Although the group’s jihad remains confined to the Horn of Africa, it incites against the U.S. and has perpetrated major attacks in the past against U.S. forces, such as the 2019 assault on the Baledogle Airfield in Somalia and a 2020 attack on the U.S. base in Manda Bay, Kenya.[46]

Such incitement continued during 2023, and U.S. forces stationed in Somalia and Kenya should take note of the Al-Shabab leadership’s explicit vow for revenge against the U.S.

With ATMIS scheduled to end its mission at the end of 2024, Somali government officials have called for it to continue its presence in the country as part of a new mandate.[47] It is of concern that Al-Shabab attacked the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu after ATMIS handed over its security to the Somali National Army on December 17, and likely that an ATMIS withdrawal will bring an escalation of Al-Shabab attacks.

Ethiopia’s agreement with the breakaway region Somaliland, seeking port access in exchange for potential sovereignty recognition, could become a cause for cross-border attacks by Al-Shabab against Ethiopia.

The group spokesman Ali Mahmud Raji, aka Ali Dheere, rejected the MoU as an “invalid,” “shameless agreement” to steal and plunder Somalia’s resources, and threatened “to defend the country with blood.” Capitalizing on the anti-Israeli sentiment because of the war in Gaza, he alluded that Ethiopia is acting the same way that “the Jews did when they occupied the land of Palestine.”[48]

Syria

While Syria continued throughout 2023 to make its way into ISIS’s weekly infographic “The Harvest of the Caliphate Soldiers,” which tallies ISIS attacks across the regions, the majority of the attacks in Syria were limited enough to keep ISIS’s presence sustainable without attracting wide counterterrorism campaigns.

However, with Iran-backed militias in Syria being heavily engaged in the Hamas-Israel war, ISIS cells might exploit the vacuum to conduct attacks to incite sectarian tension in Deir Al-Zour. ISIS will likely take advantage of the shifting Iranian priorities to build support among the Sunni population.[49]

In its attempt to further tighten its control on Idlib and the surrounding areas, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Mohammad Al-Jolani will continue to crack down on his rivals. In 2023, HTS has carried out arrests and raids in Idlib to quash dissent and consolidate the group’s power. This could expand to include arresting more rising figures within its own ranks, similar to the arrest of HTS religious official Abu Maria Al-Qahtani in 2023 on accusations of espionage.[50]

Jihadis will likely exploit the announcement made by the U.N. World Food Programme (UNWFP) that it will end, after 12 years, its assistance program in Syria in January 2024 to solicit donations for refugee camps where jihadi families are held such as the Al-Hol and Al-Roj camps in northeastern Syria, which hold thousands of family members of fighters and others who came to join ISIS.[51]

Arab tribes in Deir Al-Zour will continue to pose a threat to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with ISIS eying such opportunity to reactivate its cells in the area and recruit members of tribes. [52] The fighting that erupted between tribal militias and the SDF in the final months of 2023 raises fears of further destabilization amid the recent Turkish airstrikes on SDF facilities.[53]

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, where Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has been executing attacks since the Afghan Taliban took power in August 2021, it is very likely that, rather than taking control of territory, the group’s strategy will continue to focus on conducting urban warfare targeting Afghan civilians, particularly members of the Shi’ite community and Afghan Taliban officials and security personnel.[54]

Despite claims by Taliban authorities that their security forces have significantly degraded ISKP’s ability to threaten regional security, the group has claimed several attacks in Pakistan throughout 2023.[55]

The recent double suicide attack in the Iranian city of Kerman, which ISIS claimed on January 4 without identifying which branch conducted the attack is very likely to have been carried out by ISKP. Media outlets affiliated with the Iranian regime and Afghan Taliban said intelligence information suggests that one of the two ISIS bombers was a Tajik national. ISKP has recruited Tajik nationals in the past in its effort expand the geography of cross-border jihadi attacks beyond Afghanistan. In 2022, ISKP conducted cross-border attacks in Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.[56]

With its prolific multi-language media platform, the Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Productions and Communications, constantly inciting attacks against Western targets, ISKP’s threat to execute attacks in Europe and U.S. in 2024 remains viable.[57] This includes threats against international aid workers to deter collaboration between Western aid groups and the Taliban.[58]

Yemen

Over the course of 2023, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), claimed more than 80 operations in southern Yemen’s Abyan and Shabwah governorates, as part of its “Arrows of Truth” campaign, launched around September 2022 to repel the “Arrows of the East” campaign started by United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed local forces.[59]

The majority of the attacks targeted armed groups backed by the UAE, such as the Southern Transitional Council, Security Belt, Shabwani Elite, and Shabwah Defense Forces, all accused by AQAP of being “Emirati mercenaries.”[60]

Since June 2022, AQAP has not claimed any attacks on the Iran-backed Ansar Allah movement (i.e., the Houthis), which was once its main enemy, as it has moved its operations from Houthi-controlled western Yemen into the east of the country. However, in October 2023, AQAP claimed to have fired rockets at U.S. forces stationed at Camp Marra in Shabwah governorate.[61]

AQAP seems poised to continue its jihad against UAE-backed forces in southern Yemen, while putting its fight against the Houthis on the back burner. However, the group continues to call Yemenis to jihad against “American and Iranian proxies.”

The Al-Qaeda affiliate is particularly formidable in its media production, showing itself capable of releasing propaganda in Arabic and English that incites against Al-Qaeda’s archenemy, the U.S., and against other foes in the Middle East and the West, as well as providing concrete tips for would-be lone-wolf attackers.

The ambition to expand its regional scope of attack remains among AQAP’s media priorities. One of the main targets of its messaging, which seeks to provoke jihad over the entire Arabian Peninsula, is Saudi Arabia, which AQAP has attacked in the past.[62] A February 2023 video by AQAP’s Shahed media outlet detailed the reasons for jihad to overthrow the kingdom, accusing its rulers of waging war on Islam and corrupting Muslim society.[63] AQAP repeated the message of that video in a September statement.[64]

AQAP remains a major influence for jihadi attackers in the West, as AQAP demonstrated with its masterminding of the December 2019 shooting at the U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.[65] Over the course of 2023, AQAP’s prolific media revived two of its long-dormant productions. Issue 17 of the Sada Al-Malahem (“Echo of Epics”) Arabic-language magazine was released in September 2023 after the previous issue was published in 2011. The new issue called on supporters to retaliate for Quran burnings in Europe by attacking the embassies and ministries of Sweden and other European countries.[66]

More notably, a new issue of the English-language magazine Inspire, in which AQAP had in the past incited attacks in the West and provided practical guidance toward executing them, was released in video format on December 30, 2023. The video production – the first Inspire issue since 2021 – advised lone wolf attackers to make “hidden bombs” out of “simple kitchen materials,” and included a list of suggested targets in the U.S., UK, France, and other European countries, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and other “American economy high profile personalities.”[67]

Iran’s Axis of Resistance

The Israel-Hamas war will cast a long shadow over 2024. Revisionist powers, like Iran, will continue exploiting the conflict to its advantage – destabilizing the Middle East in the process – because doing so serves several of Tehran’s longstanding strategic objectives: isolating Israel, expelling the U.S. from the region, and projecting power in neighboring countries.

To these ends, Iran is likely to continue driving regional escalation primarily by means of its powerful network of proxy fighters in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Such destabilizing activities – besides increasing the risk of regional war – are also likely to have secondary implications for regional security, which are considered below.

Iraq

In Iraq, Iran-backed militias have attacked U.S. forces almost two hundred times in the country and in Syria. U.S. counterattacks have reinvigorated Iraqi political efforts to oust American and Coalition forces from the country; on January 5, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani announced his intention to work towards removing the forces of the U.S.-led international coalition, which have remained in the country to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. ISIS failed in carrying out any major attacks in Iraq during 2023 and the level of its insurgency has declined significantly inside Iraq.[68]

Ending the Coalition’s mandate in Iraq has long been an objective of Iran and its partners in Iraq. Iran-backed politicians in Iraq are thus likely to intensify pressure on the government, while at the same time continuing military strikes on U.S. forces in order to provoke additional counterattacks, which they can then exploit to drive anti-U.S. sentiment in the country. Iran’s many proxies inside Iraq are united against the United States and Coalition presence but divided by personal and institutional rivalries between contending factions.

Lebanon

In Lebanon, Hizbullah faces major challenges. Tolerating the Israeli strikes that target its key commanders projects an image of weakness among its supporter base. However, responding to Israeli strikes might trigger a full scale war with Israel that Lebanon’s fragile economy and fractious politics cannot endure. However, the group’s military power which, according to some reports includes at least 100,000 missiles and rockets,[69] should not be underestimated just as its tolerance of Israeli attacks should not be overestimated. Hizbullah’s media and political surrogates in Lebanon are making a concerted effort against internal skeptics of a new war against Israel, targeting especially the Maronite Catholic church leadership and recalcitrant Christian leaders in propaganda campaigns.

Yemen

Iran has driven an escalation against the U.S. and Israel in Yemen which has been eagerly embraced by Iran’s proxies in that country. Since October 2023, the Iran-backed Houthi Ansar Allah movement has launched successive barrages of rockets and drones at Israel and attacked several shipping vessels in the Red Sea. Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, besides the obvious effects of disrupting global maritime shipping, also bodes ill for the movement’s fragile peace negotiations with Saudi Arabia, especially after the Unites States has designated the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) [Specially Designated Global Terrorist group].[70] A new Houthi offensive, breaking the fragile UN-brokered ceasefire, aimed at seizing the oil-producing regions around Marib is also possible.

Iran

The possibility that Tehran and its allies will expand their campaign to target shipping vessels in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and other waterways in the Arabian Sea cannot be discounted. Indeed, in December 2023, an Iranian drone struck and damaged a commercial vessel near India, perhaps demonstrating Tehran’s willingness to expand the attack area.[71]

The recent Iranian missile and drone strikes that targeted Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan are part of Tehran’s exploitative activities to further destabilize the region under the pretext of self-defense. Further, Iran’s direct military action in these three countries comes within the regime’s attempts to reinforce its image of strength both internally and regionally, particularly after ISIS claimed two suicide attacks in Kerman.

Some early surveys suggest that the events of the Israel-Hamas war may be hardening Arab public opinion toward the U.S., Israel, and Arab Gulf partners, and softening it toward Iran and its so-called Axis of Resistance.[72] While many still see Iran as a major threat, some elements of the so-called Arab street also now appears to be somewhat more favorable toward the approach of armed struggle, a trend that Tehran will doubtless seize to try to incite regional “resistance” to the U.S., Israel, and the Arab Gulf states. But public opinion in the region is fickle and can be manipulated relatively easily.

To be sure, Iran has repeatedly signaled that it does not seek to enter into direct conflict with the United States or Israel. Tehran’s primary proxy, Lebanese Hizbullah, has signaled the same. Yet, Iran’s ability to manage escalation across multiple theatres remains undeterminable; the movement of Iran-backed militias in Syria near the Israeli border, ongoing attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria,[73] and the Houthi disruption of maritime trade, all increase the probability of dangerous miscalculations that could cause the region to spiral into a wider conflict in 2024. Iran’s preferred method of advancing its interests will remain having its diffuse network of proxies do the dirty work while preserving both itself and the crown jewel of its proxy empire, Lebanese Hizbullah, intact for future wars.

AUTHORS

Y. Kerman, Z. Emile, K. Choukry, and Matt Schierer

EDITORS NOTE: This MEMRI column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

RELATED ARTICLE: Arab Daily Reports Behind-The-Scenes Activity Of Iraqi Militias Against U.S. Forces, Directed By Iran, Since Outbreak Of Gaza War


[6] Telegram, November 27, 2023.

[7] State.gov/the-death-of-ayman-al-zawahiri, August 1, 2023.

[18] Ft.com/content/5b5d083b-6195-4b91-a192-365c0829afe6, October 17, 2023.

[21] Nytimes.com/2023/11/15/us/politics/immigration-terrorism-watch-list.html, November 15, 2023.

[22] Reuters.com, November 8, 2023.

[36] MINUSMA.unmissions.org/en/minusma-closes-its-camp-kidal-marking-end-its-presence-region, October 31, 2023.

[40] Thenationalnews.com, September 25, 2023.

[47] Voanews.com, December 17, 2023.

[53] Aawsat.com. December 28, 2023, last accessed December 28, 2023.

[56] Voanews.com/a/taliban-reportedly-dismantled-islamic-state-bases-in-western-afghanistan/7389590.html, last accessed January 5, 2024.

[68] Reuters, January 10, 2024.

[69] Reuters.com/world/middle-east/lebanons-hezbollah-what-weapons-does-it-have-2023-10-30, accessed January 17, 2024.

[70] State.gov/terrorist-designation-of-the-houthis, accessed January 17, 2024.

[71] BBC, December 24, 2023.

[72] Arabbarometer.org/media-news/how-the-israel-hamas-war-in-gaza-is-changing-arab-views/

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Netanyahu Rejects Biden’s ‘Diktat’

The Bidenites are working with Muslim Arab states to impose a Palestinian state upon Israel. But Netanyahu is unwilling to go along. More on this can be found here: “‘Israel Outright Rejects International Dictates’: Biden Creating Plan For Palestinian State, Netanyahu Pushes Back: Report,” by Jack Elbaum, Algemeiner, February 16, 2024:

In a statement on Thursday [February 15], the White House said Biden “raised the situation in Rafah [during a call with Netanyahu], and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”

Look, the IDF of course will have a “credible and executable plan” for “ensuring the safety of and support for civilians.” It did exactly that in Gaza City, when it dropped six million leaflets directing its inhabitants to flee south, beyond the Wadi Gaza. 900,000 of the city’s one million inhabitants followed those directions. The IDF did the same before its assault on Khan Younis in southern Gaza, when it dropped both leaflets and sent messages showing Gazans the precise neighborhoods where they would be safe. Despite the efforts of Hamas to maximize civilian casualties, Israel’s warnings to civilians to leave areas about to be targeted has kept the civilian-to-combatant ratio to 9:5, a ratio that no other army has managed to achieve, and this is especially impressive given he conditions of urban warfare. It is insulting for Biden to lecture Israel on this matter. He should instead have announced that “I have every confidence that the IDF will do its utmost to minimize civilian deaths in Rafah as it did in Gaza City and Khan Younis.

In response to these reports and the conversation he had with Biden, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

Netanyahu has no intention of accepting a diktat from the likes of Biden and Blinken.. He’ served in Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s most elite unit. His brother Jonathan died while leading a mission to rescue Jews held hostage in Entebbe. Don’t try, Bidenites, to push him around; he won’t have it.

He added, “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”…

Netanyahu has thrown down the gauntlet. He has no intention of going along with any Munich-like appeasement of the “Palestinians” and their main backer, Iran. After October 7, the people of Israel realized that the “two-state solution” was no solution at all; even the Israeli “peace parties” had their eyes opened on that day; there is no going back to their naïve former hopes of a peace based on a treaty. In Islamic jurisprudence, treaties with Infidels can be broken whenever the Muslims feel themselves sufficiently strong to overwhelm the other side; the model for all such Muslim treaty-making-and-breaking is the Treaty of Hudaibiyya, that Muhammad made with the Meccans in 628 A.D. That “truce treaty” was supposed to have lasted for 10 years. But after 18 months, Muhammad sensed that his forces were strong enough to take on the Meccans; breaking the treaty, he ordered his forces to attack the Meccans; they did so, and prevailed. That has been the model for all treaty-making by Muslims with Infidels ever since. Do you think Biden, or Blinken, or Sullivan, has ever heard of the Treaty of Hudaibiyya? You know the answer to that.

In northern Gaza, to placate the Bidenites, the IDF decreased its use of airstrikes and relied more on its ground troops. This led to an increase in IDF casualties. After that result, the IDF is unlikely to change its tactics in southern Gaza to please Washington.

Dismissing Biden’s warnings about entering Rafah, the IDF will indeed carry out its own plan to rid the southernmost city of Hamas operatives, then continue for a month or so of mopping-up of Hamas remnants throughout the Strip. At that point, having destroyed Hamas and rescued all of the hostages — that is, all those whom Hamas has not murdered — the IDF can make demands of its own. It will not allow Qatar, the financial backer of Hamas, to have any role in deciding who should rule in Gaza, much less in a “Palestinian state” that Israel, once it has been victorious in Gaza, will be in an even better position to reject than it is now.

AUTHOR

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.